Marketing! What are the trends in 2021?
The more things change,
the more they stay the same...
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1. Siri, Voice Search
Once a gimmick that gave lacklustre results, voice search has garnered quite a following since it first came out. No longer are you likely to get absurd results like “Hi Kelly, Death calling.” (It was dad) or “Mom died in surgery today” (Mom had eye surgery) like was commonplace in the early days.
Now, voice search statistics suggest that half of all searches done in 2020 will be done by voice. And that’s more than an interesting tidbit, because voice searches are typically done a little bit differently than searching on a desktop or phone.
On computers, some people type out full sentences, but a lot of people write in a kind of weird, pidgin hybrid language that leaves out many conventions of standard English. It’s not unusual for many people to use search terms like “Pizza recipe best dough” or “cheapest houses in which country” or “stink bug green bite” (all these are results from Google’s autocomplete, so they’ve been searched for multiple times).
But with voice, searches use more natural-sounding languages. Many people even use full sentences! Maybe it’s because talking in full sentences is easy but typing takes time. But whatever the reason, using a voice assistant means searches like “How can I make the best pizza dough at home?” are becoming more common.
What does this mean for you as someone creating content? Using commonly-asked questions and then answering them is going to be more valuable moving forward. And you can even be all sneaky-like and have these questions appear naturally in your content. For instance, “A lot of people ask me, how do you make the best pizza dough? Easy. With LOVE.” is designed to show and then answer a common question.
Headers are another great place to put these questions then answer them in the content below. If you’re having trouble finding relevant questions, a tool like answer the public can give you an idea of what people are searching for that you can use in your content to better answer voice search queries.
2. Video – Now Streaming
Vines. Tik-Toks. Comprehensive cinematographic critiques. No matter what you’re preferred topic to watch is, there’s no doubt that videos dominate the internet and are important to just about anyone using it.
But videos are more than just a fun way to pass time. In fact, videos are easily the most popular type of content available. Over 80% of internet traffic is expected be video in 2020 and beyond, meaning it’s crucial to make use of it to promote your brand.
Of course, these studies include streaming services like Netflix and Neon, and also measure by the amount of data sent, where one vine takes more data than a dozen novels.
Still, statistics across the board show that videos are the most engaging type of post on social media, with videos getting as much as 10x the engagement and more than double clickthrough rates than other kinds of marketing. Facebook also prioritises videos above other kinds of content, meaning that videos are more likely to reach more people than text alone or text with a still image.
However, videos are only effective when done well, and low-quality videos can actually have the opposite effect and harm your reputation. So how can you maximise your chances of videos being an asset for your promotions?
First, do some prep work before you film. This could be creating scripts, props, or even a set. You might also need a few takes to get it right. Naturally, better equipment produces better results, but most phone cameras do well enough for casual videos.
Next, make sure you fill out your video attributes. If you have the time, adding subtitles can be essential, especially when you consider that as much as 85% of videos are watched without sound. Fortunately, popular sites like YouTube and Facebook have easy albeit time consuming ways to add captions.If the words are important, it’s worth the extra effort!
3. Position Zero: Take that #1!
First place is the best right? Maybe at one point, but not anymore. Enter Position Zero, the zeroth place. Position Zero is the true top spot of the SERP world. So what exactly is Position Zero, and how do you get there?
In some searches, especially more popular terms, a little box appears above any of the search terms with information pulled from a website with the goal of providing quick answers to queries.
This snippet is especially helpful for voice search. When you ask your voice assistant a question and get an answer, the answer will come from position zero if it exists for the term. And remember earlier where we mentioned that half of searches will be voice? If that’s true, then Position Zero results will be by far be the most important goal of SEO.
So how do you get that coveted spot? To even have a chance of your page reaching Position Zero, it first has to be on the first page of the search results for the term.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be the 1st spot, but usually it will pull from somewhere in the top 5.
The best way to be chosen for the featured snippet when you’re on the first page is by making sure that your content answers questions you want to rank for. Directly asking and then answering a question is a good way to increase your chances. For instance, “What is Position Zero?” and then this page would be a contender if it were ranking on the first page already.
While ranking for Position Zero is a challenge, if you notice one of your pages is doing well, you can try to reformat it so that Google will be more likely to choose yours. Answering questions, making a how-to, tables of useful information, and numbered lists can all be contenders for Position Zero. Sometimes, all it takes is a quick formatting change to climb above #1 and become a True Zero!
4. Interactive Content that clicks
Would you rather see your favourite band live in concert or listen to a song on the radio? For most people most of the time, going to the event in person would be better; especially if you can interact with them with a VIP pass!
Similarly, Interactive Content has always done well and is expected to perform even better in 2020. When done right, content that is interactive lets people spread the word for you by liking and sharing it with their friends.
Interactive content can be made on your website, your social profiles, and through your marketing efforts too. Think back over some of the popular content you’ve seen over the last year. Remember the aging app? (Before the spy theory went around?) At it’s peak, it had over 80 million users because it was interactive and encouraged sharing.
So what kind of things can you do for interactive content? On your site, you can ask for ideas on your contact page. You can run competitions and contests for prizes. You can even make games, like this 404 page that asks if you want to book an actual test drive after playing their car game.
On social media, interactive content not only performs well naturally, but the algorithms tend to show it to more people because they bolster community involvement. Facebook has some of these options built right into their post options. One of these is polls. Even though there’s only two options, polls get consistently high Engagement Rate.
Quizzes are another great way to get engagement, especially if there’s an incentive for correct answers. Complete the sentence is excellent for fans of the page that get to know your slogans and keep up with your posts. Picture riddles yet another option, where a series of pictures create a sentence.
And there’s much more. The great thing about interactive content is that there are endless things to come up with. Try something fun, interesting, engaging, and interactive!
5. Instant Messaging
With all of the different ways to get in a touch with a business today, it can be a challenge to keep up with all of the various channels of communication as a business owner. But instead of customers being understanding about this, the current trend is that with more communication methods, customers expect to get a response faster than ever.
Some expect a response instantly, especially for phone calls and Facebook messages. Facebook has noticed this too and created Response Rate as a result. To earn the coveted “Very Responsive to Messages” badge, you need to respond to 90% of messages, and respond with an average time of 15 minutes or less. At one point, it was believed that you needed to have the last word to count as a response. Fortunately, Facebook is a little more lenient and created a guide about what counts as a message response.
Making time to respond outside of business hours is difficult. Employee satisfaction is also significantly higher when work/life balance is high. So how can these two things be reconciled?
With a little bit of planning, you can still reply quickly without having to be glued to your phone at 3AM on Sundays. One is to schedule OOO emails to send out automatically outside of work hours. These emails are sent instantly and let the customers know that the message went through and that you’ll get to them when you’re back in.
Other options include:
- Making a chatbot on your site to answer FAQs.
- Auto Response and Away messages on Facebook
- Phone messages for holidays or other events where the office will be empty.
- Redirecting calls/messages to someone who is available
Keep your response rate up and your customers happy by letting them know that they’re heard—fast.
6. Slippery Slope of Consumer Trust
Back before the internet was common-place, it was sometimes difficult to tell what was fact and fiction about a product or service. If you didn’t personally know someone who used it or find a review in a consumer review magazine, the best bet was what the salesperson suggested. Many tried to connect customers with the right product for them, but others were a bit more dodge with the sole goal of upselling.
Now with customer reviews widely available and shady marketing tactics from many companies exposed, consumers are more wary than ever before. Instead of starting with trust that has to be lost, for many people trust has to be earned from the get go.
Even doing things that appear noble or philanthropic can backfire for the more cynical consumers. “MEGA Corporate Conglomerate is donating $85 million to charity? That’s a drop in the bucket so they can write it off for taxes, they don’t actually care.”
In an age where trust is slipping, how can you show that you are authentic, genuine, and trustworthy?
First, to be seen as genuine, you have to be genuine. When you say you’re going to do something, you do it. If your site says “satisfaction guaranteed”, mean it.
Customer reviews are also imperative for any business with an online presence. But getting all perfect 5s is itself a problem, and most customers trust businesses that have a few negative reviews more. This doesn’t mean that you should go out looking for poor reviews; just that it’s not the end of the world to get a few 4 star ratings.
Let customers see you for who you really are. This also means that if you mess up, admit it, apologise for it, and move on. You might even gain some trust and respect along the way.
7. Mass Marketing no mas
Since consumer trust is at an all-time low, it makes sense that Mass Marketing is also less effective than ever. People don’t want to be seen as a number in a giant machine. Instead, if we’re being marketed to, we want it be something we could actually be interested in.
Before the internet was so widespread, commercials and ad breaks used to be targeted by what types of people were watching the programme. Shows aimed at children would showcase toys and fun, while those with an older crowd might have ads about home mortgage refinancing options. It made sense to target people that were most likely to be interested in the product or service.
This type of targeting hasn’t gone away. When used right, it’s very useful and effective. But it does involve a little bit of planning and knowing your target market. Facebook ads have literally thousands of ways to narrow down your audience to be as broad or specific as possible.
Email marketing has also changed. Emailing your entire contact base is a huge no-no these days. CRMs and email builders like HubSpot and MailChimp actively monitor your email Bounce rate and unsubscribes to make sure that the people you’re mailing expect to be hearing from you. Ignore the recommendations enough, and they’ll cut you off completely.
This doesn’t mean that email marketing itself is bad. In fact, it can be a fantastic tool; if the right emails are sent to the right people at the right time. This means you may need to segment your contact list into a few different groups, but it’s worth the time and effort to make customers feel valued and important.
You can even use tools to automatically pull their names up and address them by their first name. Marketing doesn’t get any more personal than that.
8. All about the experience
For a lot of companies, especially ones with a high price tag for goods and services, getting customers is more of a marathon than a sprint. Having a one-off customer helps the bottom line, but it’s the returning regulars who really make a business thrive. And how do you earn regulars? Give them a great experience they can’t get from the competition.
This can be especially difficult nowadays with consumer trust being lower than ever before. So how do you do it?
First of all, it’s important to note thatthe customer experience is everything from the first interaction onward. It’s not necessarily when someone decides to do business with you; it could be online when they see an ad on Facebook or Google or come across your website while doing a search.
That means if you’re going to be online, you should get a website that doesn’t suck. It also helps to setup a Google My Business account to help people find where you’re located. Social media also gives you an advantage, especially if you post regularly and use it to its full potential.
However, you can’t ignore the Brick and Mortar Store if you have one either. The in-store experience needs to be top-notch. This relates to more than product stores too. If you have a service where people get in touch with you, customers expect that whoever they get in touch with will be able to locate and pull-up their information. Employees are expected to be knowledgeable and competent.
In order for this to happen, a CRM is a fantastic tool that’s practically essential for growing businesses. With some of them, any employee can find important information on a client with just their names and a couple of clicks. Not only does knowing the customer better help you look more competent, it provides a better experience for them as well.
9. Multiply, Socialfy
New Social Media Platforms are popping up all the time. Some rise and quickly die (RIP Google+) And sometimes, a new behemoth will dethrone the old king and send him into exile (Remember MySpace?). But now that social media has become an accepted part of life, some of the reigning platforms won’t go down easily.
At the start of 2020, there was an average of 2.7 billion active users on Facebook, with over 2 billion visiting everyday. That’s over 20 times as many users as MySpace had at it’s peak, and about 1/3 of the world’s population.
And yet, the trend for 2020 is that focusing solely on Facebook means that you will miss a lot of opportunities. Now more than ever, it’s important to diversify on social media to reach people who want what you have to offer.
Many people expect that reputable businesses will have a LinkedIn profile. At a minimum, you should create a basic profile with your business details. If you’re able to do so, you should also write some articles and update your profile every so often. Reaching an audience on a different social media platform can be extremely valuable, as long as you create appropriate content.
But that doesn’t mean you should jump on the next up-and-coming thing just because it seems like it’s taking off. If your audience isn’t on Tik-Tok, it won’t be much help. Plus going on social media with the sole effect of selling something doesn’t sit well with most people these days and you’re almost guaranteed to be ignored. If that happens, all that invested time will go to waste.
Social media is an investment for businesses. It takes time and effort to do social media right. If you’re struggling to find the time, our eBook, How to Monitor Social Media in Just 10 Minutes a Day might be helpful for you.
404 Page: Page not found. This can appear when a page has moved or if you type in a URL for the site that doesn’t exist.
Brick and Mortar Store: A physical store as opposed to an online-only storefront.
Bounce: Emails that are rejected by the client’s email program. This could be due to the email not existing, being marked as spam, and other reasons.
Clickthrough rate: The percentage of people that click your ad after seeing it.
CRM: Customer Relationship Management. A database used to store client information and data on a large scale.
Engagement Rate: The percentage of people that like, comment, or click on a post once they’ve seen it.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions.
Google My Business: An account in Google that allows you to setup a business profile to show your location and get reviews from customers.
Interactive Content: Content where the audience actively participates instead of just passively reading, watching, or listening.
Mass Marketing: Marketing to a large and varied audience in the same manner regardless of preferences or demographics.
OOO email: Out of office email. This is an auto-generated email you can create to send to customers instantly who email you outside of designated office hours.
Position Zero: The featured snippet box that appears for certain search terms above position one.
Response Rate: The percentage of messages that you and other people who manage your Page respond to.
SEO: Search engine optimisation. A number of steps that can be taken to optimise content to increase the chance that it will rank well in Google.
SERP: Search engine results page. The list or results after typing in a search term.
Social Media Platform: Any social network such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so on.
Video attributes: Descriptors of your video such as the title, use of keywords, tags, and subtitles to make your video more accessible and easier to find.
Vine: Short, mini videos, originally meant to be under 7 seconds and played in a loop.
Voice Assistant: Siri, Cortana, Alexa, or any other algorithmic computerised voice helper
Voice Search: A tool that uses speech recognition to perform a web search.
Upselling: The idea of attempting to add more products or services or have a customer by a more expensive version after they’ve made up their mind.
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